The Darwinian evolutionary theory is a well-known historical premise, which suggests that all living species are descendants of common ancestors – be they apes, plants, genetic mutations or the like.
The work of writer and artist Charlotte Cory explores this theory and takes it one step further with her series You Animal, You!, where artworks referencing the classic carte de visite style of photographic portraiture is given modern, surrealist twist with the inclusion of animal heads. From pigs and apes, to birds and of course dogs, this technicolour animal farm is striking when contrasted alongside the vintage wares of yesteryear.
With art in her blood (broth her grandfathers were artists and she inherited their paintboxes), Cory was always destined for a creative life, but the road wasn’t an easy one. Her parents weren’t at all keen on her attending art school so she instead enrolled in English and Medieval literature at University. In her final year however, fate intervened when she caught a paralysing virus in Seville which set her back three months. To make money and pay for her studies she sold her illustrations to publishers for book covers made on an old printing press, including about 50 woodcuts for Faber book titles and several pub signs.
Her work can’t be classified simply as photography as she almost ‘paints’ with the photos, manipulating everything into the pictures as well as applying collage techniques to give them a 3D effect. A typical piece takes shape over a vast period of time. Usually Cory owns the original picture, takes her own and after some time will merge them together, ensuring the right images are paired together.
When asked about the concept itself she says, “I am very interested in that first generation of people who lived with photography – and also lived with Darwin’s ideas. They lost their sense of being immortal and godlike – they were only animals. At the same time they acquired immortality by leaving perfect images of themselves behind them when they died. They were exciting, terrifying times – hence the transmogriphy in the artist/photographers’ studios. This is what we really look like…”
A woman on the move there is always a new project up Charlotte Cory’s sleeve, and she’s currently working on some fabulous furniture designs, as she continues to “seek world domination or at the very least, a whole alternative universe”. Watch this space.
All images courtesy of Charlotte Cory
You Animal, You! is published by Blackdog books